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Energy News Roundup: Lawsuit possible in Illinois wind farm controversy, anti-wind group grows in Ohio

Energy News Roundup: Lawsuit possible in Illinois wind farm controversy, anti-wind group grows in Ohio
December 8, 2022 Kathy Johnson

Keep up with energy-related developments in the Great Lakes area with Great Lakes Now’s biweekly headline roundup.

Click on the headline to read the full story:

 

Illinois

At a central Illinois feed mill, electricity was exceeding grain costs as its biggest operating expense. With a new 3-megawatt solar array, the facility expects to reduce energy costs by about 50%.

A battle over a proposed wind farm in Logan County, Illinois may blow into court after the Logan County Board voted 5-4 to approve the controversial project.

The Illinois attorney general and a consumer watchdog group seek to recover $425 million based on findings from federal regulators that Dynegy, which has since merged with Vistra, manipulated a prior capacity auction that drove up prices.

 

Indiana

General Motors Co. plans to invest $45 million to expand production of electric vehicles at its Bedford Casting Operations in Bedford, Indiana.

CenterPoint customers in seven southern Indiana counties could see a three-month rate hike next year as the utility company seeks approval for a fuel cost adjustment driven primarily by an inoperable coal plant.

The Northern Indiana Public Service Company’s Michigan City Generating Station will be closing in the coming years. The shutting down of the coal-fired power plant is a welcome development to some environmentalists — but a hollow victory if NIPSCO fails to clean the remaining coal ash to the extent activists want.

Doral Renewables, LLC is currently building a $1.5 billion solar farm in northwestern Indiana and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, which represents 23,000 construction workers in Indiana, Illinois and Iowa, said it obtained a list of employees from the developers showing that only 17 of the 78 construction workers on the project at the time live in Indiana.

 

Michigan

Line 5 has long been a partisan issue, with Democrats mostly opposing the pipeline while Republicans support it. New Democratic leaders in Lansing say they have few plans and little power to force a shutdown. Instead, courts and diplomats will decide Line 5’s fate.

DTE Energy has cut off power to customers more times in 2022 than in any nine-month period since the state began tracking shut-offs, while at the same time requesting a $388 million rate increase.

Michigan regulators only approve a $30.5 million rate increase for DTE Energy, just a fraction of the utility’s requested amount, to pay for grid infrastructure improvements.

Ratepayer advocates played a key role in Michigan regulators’ decision to approve just a fraction of the rate increase sought by DTE Energy following an unprecedented public hearing where regulators largely agreed with critics’ assessment that the utility could be doing more with the money it has.

The U.S. Energy Department denies a request for grant funding to reopen a southwestern Michigan nuclear plant despite support from the owner and state officials.

Michigan’s top energy regulator says a federal funding denial to reopen a nuclear plant is disappointing.

As billions in government subsidies were at stake, the electric utility industry shed its opposition to clean-air regulation and put its lobbying muscle behind passing President Biden’s climate bill. DTE Energy is a leading example of major U.S. utilities that have shifted their lobbying strategy to embrace clean energy policy.

A development agency in Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula receives a $500,000 state grant to make energy efficiency upgrades in income-qualifying homes in Houghton, Keweenaw, Iron, and Baraga counties.

The Lansing Board of Water & Light retired its last standing coal-fired power plant, making it the largest utility in the state to have coal-free generation.

 

Minnesota

The combination of rising heating fuel oil and the end of pandemic assistance programs is leaving many Minnesotans worried about how they will heat their homes this winter. State agencies are encouraging people to apply for energy assistance.

The energy industry is undergoing a major transformation, as the world focuses on clean energy. To get there, utilities know they need to upgrade their infrastructure and two Minnesota utilities are pursuing construction on a 150-mile transmission line through the middle of the state to help improve reliability.

Minneapolis will offer incentives to developers to include electric vehicle charging infrastructure in new construction after state building code prevented it from making it a requirement.

Minnesota Democrats plan to make climate change a key policy focus as they prepare to take control of the state legislature.

A coalition of solar developers, community organizers, environmental groups and faith leaders is granted intervenor status for the first time in a Minnesota utility rate case and will advocate for equity and justice as regulators consider an Xcel Energy rate increase.

 

Ohio

Commercial electric vehicle startup Lordstown Motors begins shipping its first batch of 500 trucks from a former General Motors plant in Ohio.

A group of Ohio anti-wind activists that helped defeat a proposed 300 MW project in this month’s election create a new organization to fend off future renewable energy development.

What happens when state experts on renewable energy defer to local opposition despite the threats posed by climate change? An Ohio man organizes support for a rural solar project after opponents hijacked the local debate with misinformation.

Property owners in areas of Clark County, Ohio can lease or sell their land for potential large wind and solar facilities if they wish following the failure of a proposal for the blanket prohibition of those facilities in the county.

A decade into Ohio’s shale gas boom, seven Appalachian counties still have unemployment rates that exceed the state average. Experts and local sources suggested four reasons why fracking hasn’t closed the gap.

Bowling Green, Ohio, officials narrowly reject a proposed ordinance that would offer a rebate to rooftop solar owners, which critics said could undermine the local utility.

The operator of Ohio’s largest coal plant plans to switch to a different coal ash waste handling method in response to a recent U.S. EPA order to stop using an on-site coal ash pond.

 

Ontario

Kingfisher Lake First Nation is the third First Nations community to join the provincial grid. Kingfisher Lake, located 350 kilometers north of Sioux Lookout, was previously reliant on local diesel-fueled generators.

 

Wisconsin

Combining photovoltaics with high thermal performance window technologies can significantly reduce skyscrapers’ energy consumption, a University of Wisconsin researcher finds.

A Madison, Wisconsin, organization launched a pilot program for minority contractors to expand their business into clean energy installations.

A federal judge orders Enbridge and the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa to develop an emergency plan to prevent potential spills from Line 5 on tribal land in northern Wisconsin after ruling Enbridge trespassed on tribal lands.

A federal judge denied Enbridge’s attempt to invoke a 1977 treaty between the U.S. and Canada to stop the court from disrupting Line 5 operations. The Canadian energy company and the Bad River Band must create a plan for the future of the pipeline by Christmas.

 

National

Sparks of groundbreaking science are emerging from the historic lake-effect snowstorm that pummeled Buffalo and western New York. Researchers studying how wind turbines can generate lightning within snowstorms.

Republicans will seek to boost American production of lithium, copper and other electric-vehicle metals after the U.S. midterm elections gave them narrow control of the House of Representatives and the power to influence how regulators approve or deny mining projects.


Catch more news at Great Lakes Now: 

Energy News Roundup: Nuclear communities sidelined in just transition debate, Mid-Michigan smacks down wind energy

Energy News Roundup: Electric school buses, solar-powered recreational boats on the rise

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